Tuesday, August 31, 2010

From the Backlist

Out of the Darkness
By Lesli Richardson

Ancient evil forces a woman to fight for her life - and true love.

Man may forget horrors, but the land remembers. Built on a cursed patch of ground, George Simpson’s house of evil has ruined many lives over its hundred-year existence.

Author Steve Corey rents the place as an early anniversary surprise for his wife, hoping it might repair the deep rift his alcoholism has created in their marriage.

Before they moved to the Simpson house, Samantha Corey thought getting Steve sober was the hard part. But the house's dark nature has turned her thoughts to Matt Barry, Steve’s best friend and agent...and her old love. Can they overcome the ancient evil threatening them all from OUT OF THE DARKNESS?

Warning: Love, sex, violence, and a Labrador retriever who's no Lassie.

The fact that this story started out as a creative writing project is what initially piqued my interest. I had to read it, simply because I wanted to know what would keep a person working on a project, not for months, but for years. Why would the storyline hang around and not be replaced by another?

Because the story needs to be told. I read this story several months ago, and I can still recall it, very clearly. I bent my own rule to tell you about it, since the pub date is January 2009. But I’m fairly certain it was being edited in 2008 so we’ll go with that.

The characters are fully fleshed out, real people, dealing with painful issues. You don’t just walk away from people you care about when they have problems, and Sami is a strong protagonist who does her best to work through the challenges brought on by Steve and their marriage. Who could expect the coming turn of events?

A little romance, a few paranormal elements, a bit of horror to spice things up, and plenty of thrills keep things moving along at a breakneck pace. Ms. Richardson does a masterful job of weaving all the elements together to create a powerful story. Before I knew it, I was captivated by the characters, by the house, the history and everything it stood for. The plot drew me in, and kept me turning pages, long after dark.

If you want to read a story that will make you shiver, even though it’s ninety degrees outside, this is it. For all of you Stephen King fans out there, I highly recommend this story.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Programming Pre-empted

Our regularly scheduled program has been cancelled due to the passing away of a long time friend of mine this morning. We'd known each other since our teen years, which is quite a while.

I'll address this issue in a later post, but for now, there's not really much to say.

"Farewell my friend. May you find joy, peace, a true relief from your suffering, and all the blessings that were never dealt you here on earth."

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Writer Biz #14 – The Review, Part Three

Now that you have your goals set, and a timeline to reach them, let’s get to an action plan. Who is going to help you reach the desired outcome?

That would be your target market. Preferably more than one. For the sake of short blogs, let’s keep it simple. One market would be your current readers, another perhaps perspective readers. Think about who else in the publishing world has the ability to influence the sales of your book. I’m sure you can come up with a few more. Remember, the better you define your markets, the more effective your plan will be.

Once you’ve decided on your target market, it’s time to let them know about your great new story. Preferably about three months before the release date. The way you let them know, is by promotion. How you choose to promote is up to you. You’re savvy. If you’re reading this, you are probably already aware of several ways to reach your markets. Pick the ones that work best for you.

And remember, selling isn’t about telling people how great your book is, it’s about building relationships.

Last but definitely not least, is ROI. Return on investment. Once you’ve spent some time working your plan, you need to decide if it’s working for you. And don’t wait until you’ve reached then end of your timeline to check ROI. You need to check regularly. That way you’ll know if things are moving toward the goals you’ve set. Are you getting a good return for the time and money you’ve spent, or not? If not, you need to make adjustments to your plan.

One way to help gauge ROI is analytics. We’ll talk about those next week. They really aren’t as bad as they seem. And don’t worry, there won’t be a test.

That should bring you up to speed on Writer Biz.

Hope today is good to you!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Writer Biz #13 – The Review, Part Two

This portion of the review covers The Marketing Plan. There are about as many marketing plans as there are people. This is the big reason there’s not ‘one plan’ that works for everyone. Every one is different. What I want to focus on, is what they have in common.

Things you’ll need to create your own plan. Those are - goals, an action plan for reaching those goals, a timeline to do it in, and a way to evaluate your results. Everything else is pretty much open to interpretation.

The first thing you want to decide on is your goal. To sell books, gain notoriety, make money, become Nora, or whatever. The more directed your goal is the better.

The next thing you need to do is add a timeline. When do you want to accomplish said goals? Three months, six months, a year? Setting a date will help in a couple ways. One, it will help you clarify your objective. Two, it will help you assess your results. And three, it will help with the motivational aspect.

Once you’ve set your goal and timeline, give yourself a reality check. The more realistic and honest you are about your personality quirks, lifestyle, and other commitments, the more you are likely to put yourself in a position to meet the goals you set.

This is the basic framework for your plan, and it’s not carved in stone. Things change, and as you follow this process, you will change and grow. You may find down the road, you’ll need to adjust your goals, your timeline or other aspects of your plan. Do it. It’s your plan, after all.

Tomorrow we’ll finish up with the final elements of the plan.

NOTE: These are suggestions only, and should be viewed that way.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Writer Biz #12 – The Review, Part One

NOTE: These are suggestions only, and should be viewed that way. Please contact a tax professional in your area, for income, expense and tax advice.

This will be a quick overview. If you wish to read the detailed posts, please feel free to check the archives under Writer Biz. They’re all there.

The first item we discussed was record keeping. By now all of you should have some type of system in place for tracking Income, Expenses, and Writing Time.

This will help you take your writing seriously and give it the proper place in your to-do-list hierarchy.

Income. Income is money you make from writing. Whether it’s paid in the form of an advance or royalty, it’s still income. Thus taxable. While you’re enjoying your new found riches, keep an eye on your royalty statements. Mistakes happen. People are human. It’s your responsibility to address them, and deal with your publisher in a professional manner.

Expenses. An expense is money that you spend on things to run your business. And you have to be realistic about what your expenses are. The most common are office supplies, advertising. There are also writing classes, and conferences with editors and agents. There are others, but again, you’ll need to consult a tax professional in your area to be sure of is deductible and what isn’t, or check out the IRS website for more information.

Writing Time. If you want to write for a living, you need to know how much time you spend at it. No matter the job, most people know what hours they work, and when they don’t. Why wouldn’t you? The four big reasons to keep track of your writing are – Professionals do it, Production, Taxes, and Motivation.

This covers Record Keeping. Tomorrow, the marketing plan refresher.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Manic Monday

Pretty sure you've all had one. If it's today, my heart goes out to you.

Lots of away from the keyboard things going on today, just wanted to let you know what's in store the rest of the week.

Starting tomorrow, we'll get the Writer Biz segment up and running. I'll spend a day or two on a quick review, and bring us up to speed on the marketing plan, and we'll take it from there.

At the end of the week there'll be a new segment starting up, called Not New Review or What's on the Back List. Tell me which title you like, and we'll use that one.

The rule is, it has to be at least two years old, or older. No current releases allowed.

Have you ever read a brand new release, loved the author and then went hunting for the books on their back list? I've done that with several authors, and just want to pass along some stories I've enjoyed very much, in hopes that you'll enjoy them too.

Stay tuned!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Dirty Laundry

I grabbed a load of laundry out of the dryer, turned around to put it on the laundry table, then seeing something dark out of the corner of my eye, thought I'd left something in there.

Nope. He got in there, and out, all by himself. Fortunately, his sister came and stalled him long enough for me to take a picture.

Don't you just love animals? They make you laugh in spite of yourself.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Change Is Afoot

There are many changes happening in the publishing industry. Ebooks, the economy, and new technology seem to be the driving forces behind most of the current changes. Everywhere you look, there are quotes, articles, and opinions about all the goings on.

Isn’t it exciting? I know for some of you, it’s scary. Change is never easy. And for some, it will be more of a challenge than others. Like when your print publisher announces a complete change of business model and decides to go totally ebook. This has got to rock your world, simply because it probably seemed to come out of the blue.

Or how about this one. That B&N is for sale. Who saw that one coming? Things are happening at a rapid rate in the publishing world for sure. And the truth is, change doesn’t always have to be a bad thing. You can make it work for you. If you’re willing to consider, and embrace new ideas.

Imagine. Living in an era when big publishing’s business model will be changed forever. Powerful stuff. Overflowing with opportunity, despite all the negative press.

When it comes to change, especially major changes in the marketplace, this is the way I see it. There are three kinds of people.

-Those who wait for things to happen.

-Those who make things happen.

-And those who sit back and wonder what the hell happened.

Which one do you want to be?

Friday, August 13, 2010

Rules, Rules and More Rules

This came through the other day, and it’s still hanging about in the back of my consciousness, so apparently I’m meant to tell you about it.

It’s very easy to get bogged down in negative self-talk, rejections, not enough time to write, and all those other things associated with trying to work at building a writing career into the rest of our already bursting-at-the-seems life.

When I read this article from Writers Digest entitled,

The 10 Commandments of Fiction Writing,

it was like a going back to basics moment for me. Aha! My perspective snapped back in place. It was just enough of a tug back to reality to remind me that I write because I love it. And all the negative things don’t really matter because they are all part of the process. And I will not, live my life without it.

Have a great weekend everyone!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Personality Conflict

Have you ever written a character you didn’t like? And I’m not talking villain here.

It’s all about the heroine, or the hero. In this case, both. I make no claims to know all there is to know about the craft of writing. Yes, I’m published, but that in no way means I’ve nothing left to learn. As taught to me by my current WIP (work in progress, for those of you having a wtf? moment).

They each have a job to do in your story, correct? What do you do if you don’t believe they can handle the task the story has set for them?

It took me awhile to come to grips with this. At first I balked and thought, nah, I created them. Of course they’re going to work it out. I justified their existence by telling myself I didn’t know them well enough. And kept writing. And I still wasn’t buying it.

The hero seemed weak, more of a nineties kind of guy, when what I wanted was more like knight-in-shining-armor wrapped in Pierce Brosnan.

The heroine couldn’t convince me she was a strong female role model, no matter how she tried. Simply going with the flow does not a role model make.

What to do, what to do. Um, uh, mmmmm. *light bulb* Rewrite! Yes. That will work.

It didn’t. And the third time it didn’t work either.

I looked at all the other story elements. Plot, subplot, supporting characters, setting, dialogue, back story, etc. Nada, zip, zero. It all seemed to work together, I could see where the story would go, knew the beginning, middle, and end. The problem still remained. I didn’t believe in my main characters. Nothing they did could suspend my disbelief.

I have to ask myself, did I run out of talent? Or is there an elephant in the room and I’m just not seeing it?

The choices are - ditch these two losers, or recreate them with the strength they need to carry on.

What would you do?

Monday, August 9, 2010

Renegade Renovation #12 – We’re In!

The trim was all painted, and hung on the drywall with care.
In hopes that the inspector would soon be there...

And here’s the rest of the story. At the end of June, somewhere around the last blog post here, we made one final push to get everything ready for the final inspection. The inspector came, and said things looked great, we could move in. Yay! Sort of.

Yes, it was a milestone. One we’d been working to reach for more than a year. There was one tiny thing we didn’t realize though. The work wasn’t over yet.

The trim still had to be filled, caulked and touch-up painted. There were closet organizers to install.

And then the biggie. Moving our belongings from storage, into the house. Whoo-hoo!!

The answer to your question is, yes. I’m writing this post from my shiny new office. It’s not quite together yet. After all, you need a place to put all the junk, right? But it’s so cool. After what feels like months of depravation, here I sit surrounded by box after box, stacked three high. Of books! Ain’t life grand.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Back On Track - Or Is That Off Track?

Any hoo, I'm back in the land of technology. Taking time off was a must do, in order to get things done as fast as humanly possible. I'll clue you in on those 'things' very soon.

The only coherent post I could have made over the last several weeks would have been, "Oh, I'm so tired." Brings to mind Madelaine Kahn in Blazing Saddles...which makes me laugh out loud.

Starting Monday, we'll be back to the regularly scheduled program around here. Whatever the heck that is. I'm looking forward to it. I hope you are.